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AppDate: Windows 10 devices get more social

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Facebook, Messenger and Instagram for Windows 10, Soundcloud Go for South Africa, Anti-Ad from Kaspersky Lab, Friendbase virtual chat and JustWatch streaming search engine.

Facebook, Messenger and Instagram for Windows 10

The new Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps for Windows 10 devices are designed to take advantage of the operating system’s Live Tiles. This means, that once a user pins an app to the Home screen, updates and news feeds are immediately available without having to open each app individually. In addition, the Instagram app now offers direct messaging, an updated search and explore function, and easy account switching.

Platform: Windows 10 phones and tablets

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Windows Store from a Windows 10 device.

 

Soundcloud Go in South Africa

As with many video and music on demand services, a lot of the content is not available in South Africa due to licensing issues – the latest being Soundcloud Go. The service offers an expanded musical catalogue due to licensing deals with Warner, Universal and Sony, as well as tracks from 20,000 independent labels – many of which are not available in South Africa. However, virtual private network provider (VPN) NordVPN now allows South Africans to access the songs by installing the VPN before signing up for the Soundcloud Go service. Incidentally, NordVPN also allows South Africans to access the full Netflix range of movies and series by performing a similar setup.

Platform: Most smartphones and tablets as well as desktop and laptops.

Expect to pay: NordVPN is a free download, but subscribing to Soundcloud Go will cost around R150 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device to download NordVPN and then sign up for Soundcloud Go.

 

Anti-Ad from Kaspersky Lab

Anti-Ad from Kaspersky Lab is a free extension for iPhone users for Safari. It automatically blocks the advertising banners, links and popup windows that infuriate most users . The extension can be customised to allow certain adverts to display and, if need be, the extension can be completely disabled should one want to see the entire page.

Platform: Most iOS device running iOS 9 and above.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the App Store for downloading instructions.

 

Friendbase virtual chat

Friendbase virtual chat allows one to connect with friends and family around the world. Nothing new there, but it does make chatting a little more interesting as it allows users to customise their chat room’s look and feel. One can also add pets, and challenge friends to multiplayer games like tennis. The chat room can be navigated, meaning once an avatar has been chosen, it can be directed around the room.

Platform: Android, iOS and Facebook play.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

JustWatch streaming search engine

With all the VoD services currently available and new ones being added every day, it starts to become a little difficult to find certain shows. JustWatch makes things a little easier as it allows one to search across multiple VoD providers from a single search bar. JustWatch is able to search Netflix, Showmax, BoxOffice, iTunes and Mubi – with other providers like Google Play being added shortly.

Platform: Android and iOS.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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